An 1872 Reno Time Capsule Reveals Several California-Centric Artifacts

The contents highlight a region enjoying the boom of the Gold Rush.

A time capsule hidden in a cornerstone of a demolished Masonic lodge in Reno, Nevada shows just how much the California Gold Rush impacted a young city just on the other side of the state border. Artifacts found inside the 1872 capsule included silver dollars minted in both Carson City and San Francisco, and a piece of wood from Sutter’s Mill, where the discovery of gold sparked the Gold Rush.

According to the Washington Post, the lead box also included a quartz specimen from the drill at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California, a harmonica, a business card from the Young Men’s Christian Association offering “Spirited Refreshments” for 25 cents and an edition of the Virginia Enterprise in nearby Virginia City where Samuel Clemens began his newspaper career during the 1860s before adopting his pen name, Mark Twain.

“These materials have been sealed in this time capsule for 147 years,” said Catherine Magee, the director of the Nevada Historical Society and art conservator who led the excavation of the time capsule.

“Reno was a tough little commercial town,” she said. “This lot was on the bustling corner of Commercial Row across from the railroad platform.”

You can read more about the history of cornerstones in the U.S. here.

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